Ross Pearson has not posted back-to-back wins since 2010. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
Ross Pearson (14-6, 6-3 UFC) vs. Ryan Couture (6-1, 0-0 UFC)
The Matchup: Despite his famous father’s issues with his former employer, the 30-year-old Couture has found a place in the Octagon after winning six of his seven fights with Strikeforce. The Couture name can be a blessing and a curse for the son; while he might receive opportunities not given to others, it can also be a burden to compete with elevated expectations due to the lifetime achievements of UFC hall of famer Randy Couture.
Couture will be under even more scrutiny in his UFC debut considering that he was fortunate to win his final Strikeforce outing against K.J. Noons. Despite being out-landed by Noons in the bout, Couture emerged with a controversial split verdict. The Las Vegas resident is not spectacular in any one area, but he is usually able to compensate due to solid strategy and conditioning.
After a brief stint at 145 pounds, Pearson made a resounding return to lightweight at UFC on FX 6, scoring a third-round technical knockout over veteran grappler George Sotiropoulos in the show’s headliner. While Noons was ultimately punished by the judges for being content to wait and counter against Couture, Pearson is known for being aggressive on the feet.
The Englishman is a fundamentally sound boxer with good footwork, and he can also counter effectively should Couture look to close the distance in search of takedowns. “The Real Deal” struggles when faced with quicker, more athletic opponents, but he should be able to be patient and pick his spots to attack against Couture. The Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative was on shaky legs in the second round against Noons, and a well-placed jab-hook combination from Pearson could have the same effect here. Couture has a four-inch reach advantage and will need to use kicks on the outside to control range.
Couture’s best chance is to drag this bout into deep waters and hope Pearson will be unable to match his pace down the stretch. Scoring takedowns and forcing the Alliance MMA product to work from his back -- where he is uncomfortable -- will help to wear down Pearson. Couture is active on the mat and will transition for submission attempts when he sees an opening.
The Pick: Couture has not faced the most difficult of competition during his Strikeforce tenure, but he has beaten nearly everyone placed in front of him. He will struggle to handle Pearson’s aggression and boxing, however, as “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner takes this via knockout or TKO in round two.
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